A conflict of interest

Published 7:56 am Friday, July 30, 2010

Whether the City of Franklin should amend its policies on delinquent taxes in light of the difficult local and national economies is a worthy topic of discussion.

But Greg McLemore is the wrong one to bring it up.

The new Ward 3 city councilman, at his first council meeting earlier this month, said the city should stop charging interest on delinquent property taxes. To charge interest is to “take advantage” of a property owner who is already under financial duress, he complained.


What McLemore failed to disclose is that he personally would benefit from such a policy change. It turns out that the councilman, as reported recently by staff writer Nicholas Langhorne, owes the city $1,800 in back property taxes for the years 2006 to 2009.

Rule No. 1 for public servants is that they mustn’t use their position and influence in government for personal financial gain. Despite laws written to prevent them, such conflicts of interest are far too common among the political class in this country. The resulting culture of corruption and cronyism has caused Americans to lose faith in their government at all levels.

We have no problem with the Franklin City Council discussing the city’s policy on delinquent taxes. We’ve got a big problem, however, with McLemore participating in the discussion. Next time it comes up, he should acknowledge his blatant conflict of interest and recuse himself.